It’s the calm before the storm this weekend.
Next week we get to see three Group 1’s and a whole lot more besides across Derby weekend at Epsom, that coming shortly before Royal Ascot.
It’s understandable then that there is no major betting handicap or Group 1 race this week, but there is some fantastic action all the same with Haydock flying the flag.
Friday 27th May 2022
6.55 Haydock (Novice Stakes) – ALMUHIT
This 1m3½f novice race provides those needing a bit of a trip with a chance to really stretch out.
William Buick has been booked for Our Jester, one of four older horses in the line-up who was second on his Flat debut, while I’m hoping most of the money goes the way of Hello Jumeirah.
That filly was a good winner on debut in April for the red-hot William Haggas and more is expected of her, however she didn’t perform last time and we wait to see truly how good she is.
The one I like best is the Shadwell horse, Almuhit.
Very green on debut under Martin Harley at Doncaster, he was getting the idea late on in South Yorkshire. He wasn’t good last time when not getting the ideal trip again, though he’s learning all the time and retains the blinkers which were fitted for his last run.
Almuhit is a brother to Taghrooda and had he not been so green and performed the way he was expected to on debut, then he’d have finished upsides the likes of Natural World, Ottoman Fleet and Lionel, all 100+ horses now.
7.25 Haydock (Novice Stakes) – ONE WORLD
This is a nice race for the two-year-olds over seven furlongs and it could be very informative with Royal Ascot in mind. The betting closer to post time should reveal more of what is expected of this bunch.
There is some speed in the pedigrees of likely types Eagle Day and Loyal Touch, but this seven furlongs may just take some getting for the youngsters if the pace is hot which may allow the impeccably bred One World to come into his own.
The Sea The Stars/Dubawi cross, owned by Juddmonte and trained by the Gosdens, was entered for Thursday’s hot novice at Yarmouth but was rerouted here. He’s also Rab Havlin’s only ride on the card.
William Buick has been booked for the Johnston horse and he’s going for the championship but essentially, he is here to ride True Accolade in the last for Godolphin and Appleby and it may pay off for him to hang around.
8.55 Haydock (Handicap) – TRUE ACCOLADE
This is a mile-and-a-half, Class 4 handicap to finish the card and it’s one in which True Accolade can show he is well handicapped.
Third on debut in a hot novice stakes for which he was favourite, True Accolade took a keen hold and couldn’t hold out when being pressed by eventual winner Surrey Mist.
That horse went on to finish second to Israr in the bomb-proof London Gold Cup, while fourth horse Salvator Mundi has gone on to win since, as has fifth-placed Deciduous.
Saturday 28th May 2022
1.45 Haydock (Achilles Stakes – Listed Race) – DRAGON SYMBOL
Dragon Symbol’s new trainer Roger Varian was left scratching his head after the multiple winner and Group 1-placed colt ran so poorly at York on his return to action just over two weeks ago.
He has come out of the race perfectly well, there are no obvious reasons for his bad run other than being a little too fresh, and we cannot forget what he has achieved.
There is no known reason why he should fail again, so it could just be that Dragon Symbol is just too good for Clarendon House, Atalis Bay and Significantly as he warms up for a top-level assignment at Royal Ascot.
2.55 Haydock (Pinnacle Stakes – Group 3) – NOON STAR
I feel like I’m one of the people who has given Noon Star plenty of chances now. But, rather typically for a Sir Michael Stoute horse of this age (4), she is actually still improving overall and we can’t lose sight of that.
True, she has been a beaten favourite twice and rather disappointed in the Middleton last time, but that was a Group 2 race and when you stand back and take a simple look at her form she is still tempting.
Her first win was an easy one against Ocean Road, a filly rated 106 and now racing in America, while her taking win next time in a novice at Wetherby sent her off favourite for the Musidora last year in which she was eventually second to Snowfall.
She didn’t go on last year, but returned with a tough success in the Nottinghamshire Oaks in April and, as mentioned before, she is getting better overall so at the likely prices can be chanced ahead of Lady Hayes, Sea La Rosa, Climate and Nell Quickly.
3.30 Haydock (John of Gaunt Stakes – Group 3) – LANEQASH
Happy Power won well last time and remains of interest, while previous Lockinge hope Sunray Major finds himself in calmer waters now and can go well.
Kinross most likely wants it softer than this, so the one for me is Roger Varian’s Laneqash.
He reached a mark of 111 when narrowly beaten on his second juvenile start in the Flying Scotsman, while when he returned from a break last season, he ran to around 113 and was beaten only by Sacred at Group 2 level.
He’s now been gelded and as a four-year-old with just six races under his belt, he can go on again If he does, he should be at a level that is too hot for this field.
4.55 Chester (Handicap) – KAATIBB
Kaatibb has continued to improve despite being 0-4 so far, and this could be his day. Conditions look ideal and he is well handicapped, while PJ McDonald is a good jockey booking too.
7.15 Salisbury (Maiden Stakes) – ZAINALARAB
Zainalarab doesn’t look an obvious choice on form, but based on the level he was expected to get to on debut plus natural improvement, he could be tough to beat now.
He’s far from certain to reach that level but if he is priced accordingly, we can have a go.
Of the major chances against him I don’t think the four-year-old Wiseacre is at the same level, while Thakrah is getting weight but has been off a long time and was ditched by Shadwell who kept Zainalarab.
Cameron Noble takes off 3lbs too, though he’s 0-10 this year and needs a change of luck.